Shaking off Labels: How “Risk” in pregnancy can equal “Reward” instead


Carla: “I gave myself acupuncture when no one was looking.”

After having a relatively straightforward birth with her first son, Carla’s second birth was complicated by both internal and external factors. On top of moving to New York while six months pregnant, and not knowing anyone in the birthing community to compare resources with, Carla also discovered that her second baby was considered a high-risk pregnancy due to gestational diabetes and transverse positioning. Despite her described risks, Carla still had a very specific idea of how she wanted her birthing experience to unfold. A trained acupuncturist, she valued natural healing principles and wished to have a homebirth that enabled her to be in the midst of peaceful and familiar surroundings. When she took these thoughts to the first practice she considered, one that combined doctors and midwives, she was turned off by their disinterest in her ideas. “No one even asked about my birth plan,” Carla recalls. After that experience, she decided to hire her doula, AJ.

Over the next several weeks, Carla dealt with a baby that seemed committed to doing things on his own terms as well! In addition to doing everything she had heard of and then some to encourage the baby to flip on his own (including flashlights, bags of frozen vegetables and her husband reading stories to her lady parts to encourage the baby to come down!), she underwent an uncomfortable procedure in which “two big burly doctors” attempted to clamp down with four hands and physically move the baby themselves to no avail. After having tried everything to flip her baby, and having invested so much energy into wanting the homebirth she envisioned, Carla described a phase in her pregnancy when she decided to just let go. She smiled as she described doing things that women with “normal” pregnancies did, and even allowing herself to do some things just for Carla. And, somewhere between yoga classes and personal massages, the baby actually flipped on his own! With AJ’s support, Carla was able to let go of the idea of having a homebirth and turn birthing at the hospital into an experience that she could still treasure and make her own. It turns out, to everyone’s surprise, that Carla’s baby wasn’t done flipping yet, but at that point Carla had already done the difficult part, which was making peace with the unique birth experience about to unfold. We all laughed as she described her last ditch effort to coax her baby into head down position and prepare herself labor: before going into delivery, Carla discretely gave herself acupuncture in her foot while no one was looking! And wouldn’t you know, the baby came down on his own as she was being wheeled in for a Cesarean, and she had the vaginal birth she hoped for after all.


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